In the 21st century, the digital world has made tremendous growth. All this growth happened through the internet and smartphones. The smartphone or mobile phone application is so popular these days and Individuals use it extensively. If we want monthly groceries, we need to open the grocery application on our mobile phone and place our order. The next day’s order would deliver to our doorstep. Such apps are generally working online as it involves Realtime tracking of the driver’s location, the available products in the stocks to make purchases.
Such apps are generally categorized as online mobile apps. Now in contradiction to the online apps, the offline mobile apps are not completely offline but can achieve many features to work offline, there are many offline apps in many different categories on the play store and apple store.
Few of the popular offline apps:
- Beyond Pod Podcast Manager
- Here Maps
- TripAdvisor City Guides
- Google Drive
- Pocket etc.
So, to know more about how things are working so smoothly on our smartphone, we need to go to deep dive into it and see the backend part or the mobile architecture so let us start with some basics.
What is a Mobile App or Application?
In Today’s World many of us are tech-savvy and using smartphones, Smart Watches, etc. on daily basis. All these devices solve many problems of user like us, for example, if we want to see the world current time or calculate something or want to talk in person so we can use Video call, if we want to check an urgent email then we can check on mobile no need to carry a Laptop or Desktop always with us. Using Smart Watches, we can track our daily Physical activity and it helps us to stay fit.
Now the question comes how this thing works so accurate, then the answer is all these things work on some platform. Now, what is that platform, so the platform is an operating system? Operating systems are the platform on which all these activities a smartphone can run, or an app will run on this platform. Generally, there are two types of Operating system are so popular these days for mobile devices are Android and iOS.
The Mobile Application is a set of instruction written in the background which runs on a specific platform and solves specific or many problems of the users. We mentioned above, there are generally two types of operating systems, so apps are also designed and develop as per the platform. It means for the Android app the platform will be different and the developer who designs and develops will do different platform programming and same with IOS.
If we want to download the Android app so first, we should have an android phone and Access to the google play, store, and the same with IOS we should have an iPhone and Apple store to download the application.
What is Database?
As we mentioned Mobile applications are designed to solve user problems, but what about user data, where it will store? And how it will store? To answer this, we need some database to store user’s data. A database is a collection of organized data which store and retrieve electronically from a Mobile system or computer system. For any database, we need a Database Management system, the database management system is a Software design and developed by various companies like Oracle, Microsoft, or available on open source.
Available Databases for Mobile Application
There are various types of the database available in the market specifically for Apps and these lightweight databases are
MySQL is an open-source and multi-threaded database. Its multi-threaded functionality gives the mobile application some power to process the data parallelly. MySQL is a very easy to use and user-friendly database.
PostgreSQL is also open-source object-based, relational database. The relational mean here is data stored in the database in the form of tables and each table contains rows and columns. For example, if we have a school database so that the Student will be the one table and the Teacher will be the other table both tables are related to each other. PostgreSQL is a very customizable database and users can customize it as per the needs.
Redis is also an open-source database and the key point of this database is it store the data on Key/value store technique for data caching in the mobile application.
MongoDB Database Development is mainly used for unstructured data (unstructured data is different from structured data; unstructured data could be any large Audio or Video file, or large picture and it won’t store in the form of rows and column) It distributed the data on different data nodes if we have multiple data nodes. MongoDB is a JSON document database.
Memcached has a distributed cache-based database that uses multi-thread technology for storing the data into a cache object and these things help the application to speed up and reduce the load.
MariaDB is also an open-source relational database.
Cassandra Development is a NoSQL database that is used for Big Data or a large amount of distributed data.
SQLite uses a single file to store data which improves application store and retrieval time.
It is written in the Go language and it is a fast and time-series database.
Riak DB is also a NoSQL Database used for high availability.
Couchbase is the most suitable database for offline app. It is a full-stack NoSQL database.
It is an Open source NoSQL database and it has a graph and geo algorithm which helps a different kind of math problem.
For the app to work Offline Database selection plays a very crucial role and hence if you are looking to develop an offline mobile app, you need to consider the user of a local database that could be used for offline mobile apps. One of the major features supported or required by the offline apps is the ability to sync with the online database, hence its quite essential that the local database from the mobile device sync the data with the online database. The few most common local databases widely used for Mobile Apps are SQLLite, Realm DB, ORMLite, Berkeley & Couchbase.
Things Should Remember Before Selecting any Database
First, selecting any database the workflow and the business requirements should be clear. It should be clear the database accomplishes all things required by the developer. Before selecting the above database for the mobile application many developers face challenges. When the Database integration comes into the picture there are a few steps which developer should keep in the mind.
Types of Data format
It is very important to know in which format the mobile application store and retrieve the data. The offline app stores the data on the local storage or in the phone storage, whereas the online app stores the data on the database server.
Total Size of the data
When an application interacts with the user it generates data in a huge amount and for this huge amount of the data, it is required where we store and what will be the smartest way to store this data. The amount of the data may verify the data structure selected. The database is the only thing that separates the data into different file systems and servers.
Retrieval and store speed
For the online mobile app, the retrieval is a bit slow because the data stores on the server database, and it will take some time when the app request for some data and server response whereas in an Offline mobile app the data stores in the mobile phone so the retrieval is very fast comparatively.
Data Security is very essential these days. we heard many celebrity phone hacks and their data is available in the public domain so to prevent all these kinds of things the database should have some security or encryption so that the data remain secure.
It should support Cross-Platform and all platform:
If an app supports iOS and the android, then the database also should support the cross-platform but when the IoT or smartwatches come into the picture how my database supports those devices that matter.
Representation of data structure:
It is a very important model for the data and represents the form of data structure it also helps the app for searching the user queries, location bases queries, reporting the data.
Offline Data Sync Techniques
When due to less internet connectivity or no internet connectivity some mobile application works on the offline mode, it means when the internet connection becomes normal again the offline data will sync between the app and database and uploaded the backend or on the database. If We take an example of Gmail so when we write an email and send it to the sender, but what we see that the internet connection is not stable, but Google has data Synchronization functionality in their application and database whenever the network come to the email sent to the sender without any problem.
Another example is Dropbox in that we can upload files offline and once internet connectivity comes it automatically upload the data to the server. Data Synchronization is a very essential part of mobile application development. Choosing the local database can help the application to automatically sync the data between the database and cloud server and vice versa.
Couchbase and Realm are the most popular databases for Data sync between local and cloud servers.
Application with multi-coating data
Many applications contain multiple coating data, here the meaning of coating is the various schemas in the single database, and all are dependent on each other. In the multi-coating data app sometimes, the app requires some changes to the database but when we use a structured database like MySQL or SQL Server then we cannot change it quickly.
To solve this type of problem we need an unstructured database that stores the data in a distributed manner the famous example of this unstructured database is MongoDB. It is a very powerful database designed for unstructured data when we have a multi-coating application and the changes are required so frequent in that case MongoDB development helps a lot to develop.
The app’s performance is certainly the most important aspect one needs to evaluate when developing a mobile application. It is important for an Enterprise or a Startup to ensure smooth performance and lower page load times to keep engaging the target customers.
When a mobile application runs, it remains in sync with a server at the backend, where its interaction with the database may become a bottleneck sometimes. Such issues can even get worse if the database server is detached from the webserver. In such a setup the database communication can cause a big issue for the application and may jeopardize the entire user experience.
Here we have a method called ‘Caching’ to speed things up. Technically, caching means storing the data into the memory buffer, so that mobile application and Database can access it at any given point in time. For any mobile application ‘Forecast Caching’ or ‘Predictive Caching’ is the best technique which improves the overall performance of the mobile application. In forecast caching, the data is made available locally to the user once they log in.
MongoDB provides this feature and it enhances the mobile application performance up to a great extent.
In general terms, Latency means the delay in the data transmission between the sender and receiver. The data latency is a big problem in the mobile application, which can jeopardize the user experience and may hamper the reputation of the mobile application itself.
For example, if you want to access some gaming application but due to the latency it is not loading properly and as a user, you do not feel good about that gaming application. To reduce the database latency there are various ways in the database like Separate the reads and writes, Improving the indexing, etc. which can enhance the performance and user experience as well.
Some databases have low latency level
- Rethink DB
Data Synchronization between mobile and App database
As we know the Web app or application are those applications which open on the computer browser, If you see the Facebook app when we open it on a Mobile application or in Laptop/Desktop browser it gives us the same result likewise any mobile application which has the web application the user data should in the sync or the application be in the sync to support the user in the better way.
Data synchronization can be understood from two aspects, that is Downloading and Uploading. Here Downloading is the transmission of data from a backend server, where the database is hosted, to the mobile devices, on the other hand, the Uploading is the transmission of data from the mobile device to a backend server. It is a basic expectation to convey the success or failure of the data sync to the end user either directly via notification or indirectly via an application log, with adequate error snapshot in event of a failure. Even in the event of subsequent sync failures, the application will provide the same user experience to customers.
We have two types of Synchronization techniques
- Asynchronous Data Sync – the primary objective of this technique is to manage a data synchronization event in an asynchronous fashion, without blocking the user interface in any way possible.
- Synchronous Data Sync – In this technique, the user interface is blocked while data sync is occurring in the background.
Storing data on Web Apps Vs Mobile Apps
Web apps data general stores on the browser, whereas the mobile app data store for mobile locally using a local database. There are some tools which help to store the data on the browser
To get the data online or offline, we use API (Application Programming Interface), these APIs are a bunch of pre-written code which helps us to get the data from any other application. In the case of offline Web application Offline storage API help to get the offline page and store it on the browser but using Indexed DB API is storing the data in a better way.
It works on client-side proxies, Google has developed two dedicated libraries, SW-toolbox, and SW precache, which help us caching the dynamic and static data, using these two libraries we can implement our offline data storage strategy.
Mobile app to store data on the device
For mobile applications, we may have two types of storage, Local or phone storage: Today, many smartphones offer so much storage, so this thing is very helpful for offline mobile applications, storing data in a local mobile store helps in the fast data retrieval and better usage. Android operating systems are built on Linux/Unix operating systems, so all the data stored locally remains in the file system format and distributed on different file systems.
As we have mentioned many databases above and, we would like to take an example of one of the famous databases which are SQLite. iOS and Android both support the SQLite database. SQLite runs very well on mobile phones and provides good data retrieval and storage. It offers a facility to use a single file to store data. SQLite is not so good for sync; however, it makes things quite easy for the application developers. For querying information, SQLite is the best database.
The Technology world is scaling with each passing day with an ever-growing number of innovative mobile applications launched for different kinds of functionalities. People are vouching for offline mobile applications as such apps give them a better experience along with reliability and flexibility to use them wherever and whenever the need arises. Based on the realization of the value adds that could happen to your business due to offline apps, during the drafting of the scope of work even before development you can hire a mobile app development company well versed with offline mobile app development, as we have proficient experts to help your with your mobile app development requirements and suggesting the best architecture for your mobile app development considering long term scalability.
Software development organizations and developers are thinking alike and investing a lot in making the offline mobile applications or adding offline functionalities in their applications to offer innovative features to the end-users, as such mobile apps work without an active internet connection. Customers and business owners both are at beneficial points that are using and developing offline mobile apps for their business areas. If you also want to take your business to the next successful level, then our suggestion is to use the correct Database which offers seamless offline functionalities for the mobile application, as it will help you add more users and retain the older as well. If technology is not your cup of tea, you can always rely on us in order to hire best mobile app developers for your dream project today.
Rahul Mathur is the founder and managing director of ARKA Softwares, a company renowned for its outstanding mobile app development and web development solutions as well as specialized in Android and iOS app development. Delivering high-end modern solutions to all over the globe, Rahul takes pleasure in sharing his experiences and views on latest technological trends.